Another day, another salad! I’ve been wanting to make this recipe since pears were in season last fall. Oh well – our global food distribution system allows me to have fall fruits year-round, which is convenient for me, but maddening to Michael Pollan.
I love the combination of warm blue cheese, crunchy walnuts and sweet fruit. This recipe roasts the pears with that confetti-colored filling, basting in a mixture of apple juice and white wine. You then make a sweet salad dressing out of the basting liquid to serve with the pears on their bed of arugula.
Adapted from Ina Garten.
Roasted Pears with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 3 ripe but firm pears
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
- 3 ounces coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup apple juice (or cider)
- 3 tablespoons white wine (or port)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 6 ounces baby arugula
- Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a melon baller and knife, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.
Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.
In the same small bowl, combine the apple juice, wine, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.
Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and drizzle with salad dressing. Top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.
These weren’t so good as leftovers, so I recommend just making enough for you and your dining companions. Reheating the pears makes them mushy and the sauce loses something. A wonderful first-course or part of a healthy soup-salad dinner for these cool spring evenings.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo
Almonds remind me of the first sentence in one of my favorite books, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.
The almonds used in this French frangipane tart are not bitter – rather, they are richly sweet ground into the pillowy filling that holds my tender wine-poached pear slices.
Adapted from Martha Stewart, of course, this flower-like tart is a definite crowd-pleaser. I omitted the rum simply because I had none, but a dash of alcohol never hurt anyone…
Pate Sucree (crust)
Ingredients (makes 2 crusts – you’ll need one; freeze the other):
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add yolks; pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together (no longer than 20 seconds). Divide in half; shape each into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (up to 2 days).
White Wine Poached Pears
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 4 firm but ripe pears, stem on, peeled
Combine wine, 4 cups water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add pears, reduce to simmer, and cook until the pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool pears in poaching liquid.
Wine-Poached Pear Frangipane Tart
- 1 pate sucree
- 4 wine-poached pears
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, room-temperature butter, plus more for tart tin
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 cup fig jam, for glaze
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch tart tin with a removable bottom. Set aside. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour, and roll pastry dough (pate sucree) into a circle with a 14-inch diameter. Fit circle into prepared tin, being careful not to stretch dough too thin. Transfer to freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, finely grind almonds. Set aside.
Make the frangipane: Combine butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer). Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ground almonds, egg, almond extract, and flour, and beat until smooth. Spread evenly into chilled tart shell and refrigerate while preparing pears.
Remove cooled poached pears from liquid and cut each in half lengthwise, removing core and stem. Place each half, cut side down, on a cutting board and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange sliced pear halves on frangipane around edge of tart, leaving space between each half. Bake until the tart shell is golden brown and the frangipane is puffed and brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
While the tart is baking, melt jam with 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush warm-from-the-oven pears with apricot-rum glaze.
Cool tart to room temperature before slicing.
Delicious! The pears themselves smell so wonderful while poaching – the wonderful combination of lemon, cinnamon and vanilla. Then the almond frangipane baking with that rich, buttery crust…ahhhh.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo